Archives: Illness & Disease

  • Heartworm-Positive Cases

    One of the most reputable and popular veterinary laboratories in Ontario reported heartworm-positive rates increased almost 1700% from 2012 to 2017! No, that percentage is not a typo and, yes, you’ve read that correctly. That’s a terrifying number considering there are many more pets that go undiagnosed every year! One of the factors that contributes to this is the growing number of international adoptions from heartworm-positive endemic areas in the United States. Rescue agencies are … Read More »

  • Untreatable Bacterial Infections are Increasing in Prevalence!

    Medicine is constantly evolving and adapting to changes around us. Much like how humans evolved over time, so have bacteria, parasites, and fungi. The changes in these organisms have presented serious challenges in veterinary (as well as human) medicine, especially when it comes to treating contagious illnesses. Unfortunately, our pets are particularly vulnerable to organisms that cause illness because of their physical exposure to the environment combined with their lack of hygiene. Multi-Drug Resistant Organisms (MDROs) refer to bacteria, parasites, … Read More »

  • Fatal Parasites Coming to a Backyard Near You!

    When we think about parasites that infect our pets, many of us believe them to be completely treatable. Indeed, while some parasites are easier to eradicate, some parasites are very difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate. One such parasite is called Echinococcus multilocularis (EM), a species of tapeworm that affects our pets and us and is almost always fatal! EM is shed in infected animal feces. This is particularly worrisome for our pets that ingest stools, hunt or eat … Read More »

  • The Rabies Myth

    Many people believe rabies to be an elusive, rare virus that’s only found in the heavy northern bush but rabies is actually all around us! In fact, 288 cases of rabies were confirmed in Ontario in 2016, a large proportion of which were found in the west GTA. Rabies is a virus that’s spread to any mammal through the saliva of an infected animal. Despite popular belief, you don’t have to be bitten by a rabid animal to become … Read More »

  • Leptospirosis

    While not a parasite, this organism causes a devastating infection, called leptospirosis, to both animals and humans. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means you may contract the illness from your pet! Leptospira bacteria are shed through the urine of infected animals (mostly wildlife). Common carriers are skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and foxes. The bacteria generally find their way into soil and still water (like puddles), so pets that go outdoors in any capacity are at risk. Those critters who like … Read More »

  • Fleas!

    These common external parasites are one of the more obvious parasites we see on our pets. Fleas are tiny insects (about the size of the eye of a sewing needle) that live on warm-blooded animals and feed off their blood. Fleas are often thought of as an annoyance and not as a serious threat but fleas were responsible for spreading the bubonic plague, a bacterial infection that decimated half the world’s human population in the 14th century! Though the … Read More »

  • Lungworms

    This is a newly recognized parasite in the GTA. Lungworms are two different species of parasitic worms (Angiostrongylus vasorum and Crenosoma vulpis) that infect dogs. The organisms infect the heart and lungs and are spread by eating infected frogs, sniffing or licking slugs, snails, or the gooey trails these creatures leave behind. Once inside the body, these parasites migrate to the blood vessels of the heart and lungs, where these tiny worms invade the lung tissues, causing a serious … Read More »

  • Intestinal Parasites

    These threats are a very common occurrence amongst our pets. Intestinal parasites are a wide variety of organisms, each of which has a unique genetic makeup, lifecycle, and method for invading the body. Left untreated, parasites cause damage to the gastrointestinal system and even other parts of the body. Some very common (meaning, we generally identify positive cases daily) intestinal parasites we see at our Clinic are giardia (beaver fever), toxocara (roundworm), and isospora (coccidia).   Intestinal parasites are most … Read More »

  • Ticks and Lyme Disease

    This is one of the most talked-about parasites addressed in our Clinic lately and for good reason! Pervasive, sneaky, and practically villainous, these bugs are technically part of the arachnid family, but these parasites aren’t your innocuous, household spider. Unlike mosquitoes, ticks are much hardier, surviving and remaining active throughout winter. In fact, these parasites will crawl from the undergrowth looking for a blood meal the moment temperatures reach 4°C. Like mosquitoes, ticks transmit disease through blood exchanged from an … Read More »

  • Heartworm Disease

    Heartworm disease is a serious parasitic infection caused by worms invading the greater blood vessels of the heart and lungs. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, which acquire the worms by feeding from infected wildlife or domestic animals. When a mosquito ingests blood from an infected animal, the mosquito also consumes tiny worms (called microfilaria). These microfilariae develop inside the mosquito and are then deposited into their next victim. These microscopic organisms slowly make their journey to the blood vessels in … Read More »